Bike helmets, ski goggles swept up in gun debate
Public pressure against companies connected to the gun industry after last month’s school shooting in Florida has hit an unlikely target: REI, the outdoors co-op better known for its public-lands advocacy, liberal return policy and annual dividend for customers.
The Seattle-based retailer, which doesn’t sell guns, announced late Thursday that it will at least temporarily stop ordering ski goggles, water bottles, bike helmets and other products from some popular brands – including CamelBak, Giro and Bolle – because their parent company, Vista Outdoor, also makes ammunition and assault-style rifles. The decision came a few hours after REI’s Canadian counterpart, Mountain Equipment Co-op, took a similar step.
An outpouring of customer concern over continued mass shootings has prompted MetLife, Hertz, Delta Air Lines and other major U.S. corporations to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, at some political risk. Kroger, L.L. Bean, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have announced that they’ll no longer sell guns to anyone under 21.
Meanwhile, Georgia lawmakers’ decision to punish Delta Air Lines for publicly distancing itself from the National Rifle Association was an extraordinary act of political revenge.
By killing a proposed tax break on jet fuel, pro-gun Republicans won a political victory that could pay off in the short term, but other companies won’t soon forget that Georgia allied itself with the NRA over one of its largest private employers, with 33,000 workers statewide.